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tv   The Battle of Midway and John Ford  CSPAN  June 15, 2014 4:00pm-4:31pm EDT

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american history tv this weekend on c-span 3. in the third of a five-part look at hollywood directors who made films for the u.s. government during world war ii, we feature in the 18r john ford minute documentary he made for the u.s. navy about the 1942 battle of midway. the film presented of the jury victory inlor -- a vivid color. we speak with mark harris about john ford. , mark harrisk focusing on the story of hollywood and the second world war and five leading directors, including john ford, who served in the u.s. navy during world war ii. us about thetell work of john ford? of the mostone
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respected directors in hollywood, probably the most respected director before the war. between 1939 and 1941, he went on an unmatched care in hollywood making the grapes of stagecoach, young mr. lincoln with henry fonda, a set of movies that gave him the reputation of one of the most intelligent and serious minded directors. he was also the most prescient of the five directors in realizing that war was inevitable. three months before pearl harbor, ford was in uniform. he felt that war was coming and that he also understood that hollywood needed to be prepared. agree gotten the navy to
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to let him create something that came to be known as the field photo unit. it was an auxiliary in which he recruited cameramen and soundman and film editors from hollywood studios who would spend their weekends and nights training to andhings like develop film shoot film under wartime conditions. in some ways, it was a lark. ford really loved ceremony and military procedure. but this unit became absolutely crucial during the war when it was called into action to shoot documentaries. >> two of the most significant ford witnessedhn the events unfold on omaha beach in the battle of midway, in
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which he was wounded. correct? >> the battle of midway was the first time a major american anmmaker was there to film engagement. it was the middle of 1942 and the war in europe was not happening yet as far as the u.s. was concerned. all of the concentration, all of the effort was spent in the pacific trying to hold off the japanese in various basis while the navy attended to rebuild its fleet to full strength after the damage done by pearl harbor. most of the news in the six months after pearl harbor that had come out of the war was not good for the u.s. and there were not a lot of victories being tallied in the newspapers. there was a lot of valor in
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terms of allies holding the line for a very long time before, you the philippines fell. midway was the first point at majorwe won a successful engagement and ford was there. he had been put aboard a ship from hawaii and taken to midway without knowing that a battle was coming. he said later that he assumed he was there to make a documentary about life at a remote naval outpost. instead, you learned the japanese attack was imminent and the u.s. was prepared. on the morning of midway, he was stationed on the roof of the powerhouse with the camera and a couple of men from his unit who also had cameras, perfectly
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positioned to capture incoming japanese zeros. alternating shooting footage and being on the phone to the naval officers below just telling them what he was seeing and he shot and killed -- he shot until a piece of shrapnel hit him in the arm and knocked the film and its camera out of its rocket -- out of its sprocket and he was the first hollywood film maker to be wounded in action. >> we will see his work titled "the battle of midway." what should they look for? it is impossible to overstate the impact this movie had. by the end of this run, it did
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not show instead of hollywood features, it showed in addition to them. it had played in three quarters of all of the movies in the united states. what you should look for in the movie is the fact that it was made in color. we take that for granted now, but it was shocking and unprecedented for audiences then to see real events like this in color. color had been reserved for fantasies like "the wizard of oz." fashion shows or lavish musicals. lack of my was considered more realistic. this was one of the first examples of color realism. if you listen to the movie, you will hear there are four off-camera voices. he has a really interesting technique of alternating narration and commentary and two of the voices you will hear,
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sort of a surrogate elderly woman and young man, those the voices of jane barwell and henry fonda. it is a fascinating mixture of hollywood technique in terms of the narration, the music, the storytelling, and pure footage, especially in the middle of this movie, when the narration drops away and the battle begins. >> mark harris, thank you for being with us. from 1942, this 18 minute films ."lled "the battle of midway ♪
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♪ cook's routine patrol -- >> routine patrol. behind every cloud may be an enemy. ♪ midway island, not much land, but it is our outpost.
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♪ ♪ these are the natives of midway.
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♪ the birds seem nervous. there is something in the air. something behind the sunset. ♪
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excitement this morning, the patrol has spotted an enemy fleet. in historic counsel of war is held. ♪ >> that looks familiar. >> yes, ma'am, it is. >> he is from my hometown,
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springfield, ohio. he is not going to fly that great big bomber? jobyes, ma'am, that is his -- >> yes, ma'am that is his job. mother is just like the rest of us mothers in springfield or any other american town. good luck. god bless you, son.
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quek suddenly, from behind the clouds, the japs attack.
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[gunfire] ♪
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>> this really happened.
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>> in the meantime, our warships fleet.e jap suddenly, the trap is sprung. maybe planes -- navy lanes roar
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from the depths of our carriers.
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the invasion forces were hit and hit again. men and women of america, here come your neighbors sons home from a day's work. .here is jimmy patch >> how many more today, skipper?
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back in midway -- >> just as free as they ever were. click the battle of midway is over. our front yard is safe. tiny coral reef, men who
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fought to the last round of ammunition and then crashed into the sea. days, 10 daysne without food or water. his first cigarette. >> that first drag sure taste good. .> 11 days well done. logan ramsey. 13 for frank.
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♪ >> get those boys to the hospital. cots and cleanl sheets. , hurry, to the hospital please. 100 beds. cross roof, the red plainly marked. a symbol of mercy the enemy
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would respect. >> divine services were held beside a bomb crater. eventide, we buried our heroic dead. ♪ major.ain, colonel,
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♪ [" my country tis of thee"]
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♪ quick 1942 film, "-- >> the 1942 film, "the battle of midway."
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view hisohn ford service in the u.s. navy? >> ford was really proud of his service. it was the oldest of the five directors i write about. he became a grandfather during the war. he had been old enough to serve in the first world war, even though he did not. i think the war was a proving ground. he really wanted to test his courage and although he was at least once directly in the line of fire, i am not sure that ford .ver believed he was courageous at one point he said, all i know is that i am not a brave man. i am a coward. that was after he had been at d-day. ford was proud that he had served and when he completed his decommissioning papers, he said he would do it again if called
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upon. one of the things he did after the war was started place called the farm, which was a combination of rest home forbhouse-barroom-getaway the man and his field photo unit and it was a place he decorated with every metal and recognition he had ever one during the war. during the war. it was a huge part of his identity and he kept it in operation for almost 25 years after the war. >> his work lives on in the films he put together. how important was it to the allied effort and to the american people use all these films in the 1940's? >> it was tremendously important. especially the battle of midway, which was the first visual evidence that home front
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moviegoing audiences had that the u.s. good win this thing. it was the first really good news that movie theaters brought about the war. i think beyond any one movie that he put on screen, ford will always have a place in the history of world war ii film making efforts because he was the first of anyone, whether in hollywood or the war department, to realize and believe and act on the conviction that there should be a wartime snowmaking effort. he understaffed a wartime filmmaking effort. he understood that it would be essential to document this war was only 10 or 12 years old, it was newer to americans by fire down the internet -- by far than the internet is to us today.
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he understood this medium would play a critical part in american perceptions of the war effort. >> the book came out earlier this year. -- a story ofk hollywood and the second world war" thank you very much for being with us. >> thank you for having me. journalistthor and charles cobb. he talks about gun ownership by nonviolent groups during the civil rights movement. even though leaders like martin luther king junior did not believe in violence, they were protected by supporters who carried guns. he is the author of this nonviolent -- he is the author of " "this nonviolent stuff'll get you killed." this event was hosted by the library of congress. it is about 1.5 hours. [applause] you.ank
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thank you for coming out. a pleasure for me to be here. , want to do a couple of things two or three things. world,book publishing there is what is called the front matter. everything that you see before the book actually begins, before chapter one. how would include the table of contents, it forward or a preface or introduction of some sort, dedications and the like. i want to give you some of the front matter of the book. which is not quite a forward, but my reasoning with respect to the book and the process that


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